No Rose Garden Promised Here

During the late 1960’s until 1973 I sang in a local band.  We performed for weddings, graduations, in taverns (18-year-old beer and wine only bars), parties and just about anywhere a small band could.  I was the only female, and often just did backup vocals and harmony.  Our band –The Happy Medium– (called so because we played/sang every genre of music possible, right down to polkas), consisted of lead singer, lead guitar, bass guitar, drummer (all four were guys) and me… backup singer, tambourine player :).  I sang music by artists like Carly Simon, Carol King, Brenda Lee, Anne Murray, Lynn Anderson, Karen Carpenter and others.  I always liked singing Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden”!

Today’s Christianity is filled with numerous “false gospels”, many of which its leaders teach that being a Christian means you’ll have a prosperous (materially) life; or that if you have enough faith, you can have or do anything you want.  Well, I am here to tell you the two words to describe a true Christian’s life are not “Rose Garden”:

They are SURRENDER and SACRIFICE!

There is only one statement made by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that is recorded in all four Gospels.  It deals with how to live the Christian life according to God’s will and not our own.

Matthew 16:24-27   Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

Mark 8: 34-38   When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 14:27   “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

John 12:25-26    “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

As the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-5  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. 

It’s not enough for a person to make a decision for Christ at an altar.  A blood bought child of God cannot walk successfully without repentance.  While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior.  The most evident change in behavior is to surrender our will daily to do the will of the Father!  That includes body, soul, mind and spirit to the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ to be used as HE sees fit; for His glory and honor.  Not for our gratification; although that is a beautiful by-product of surrender— JOY!!   We need to take regular inventory of our commitment to our Father and Lord Jesus.  Honestly, I know this to be so true.  Very often I must take an inventory of relationship with my God, as I believe every blood bought adopted child of God MUST do. Even when I take spiritual check-ups and realize something is amiss in my personal relationship with Him, I never cease to be amazed at His love, grace and mercy which fills me with hope looking to my eternal destination— and the peace of knowing that no matter how bad things get (or are), He is always with me.

Paul never glamorized the gospel.  It is not success, but sacrifice! It’s not a glamorous gospel ,but a bloody gospel, a gory gospel, and a sacrificial gospel!   Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, wept more, bled more, grieved more, loved more, prayed more, given more!  (edited) Leonard Ravenhill
Praying for “all the saints”.  Be blessed ♥ Streim

Are You Willing?

follow JesusI’ve heard some Christians say that ‘taking up our cross’ means we have some heavy burden to bear daily… that’s worldly wisdom to me.  Jesus miracle of feeding the 5000 had just taken place, and now alone with His disciples, He asked them “Who do the multitudes say I am?”  They responded ‘some say John the Baptist, others Elijah and some say you’re a prophet of old risen again.’  Then Jesus said, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter’s response “You are the Christ of God!”  He warned them and told them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”  This all led up to the verses in my photo.  Do you think that the disciples at this time knew what Jesus was even saying to them?  After all, they just boldly proclaimed and understood who He was.  When Jesus went to the Garden to pray before His betrayal, He praying fervently, in much agony, to the point His sweat was as blood when it fell to the ground. He prayed “Father, if Thou are willing remove this cup from Me; but not My will, but Thy will be done”. Jesus Christ knowing not only the physical pain, but the emotional and mental anguish He would suffer as well; chose to do the Father’s will.  Our daily cross to bear— surrender ourselves to our Savior and Lord, just as He said to the Father “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

 C.S. Lewis said “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.”  Praying for all in the Body of Christ… ♥ Streim

 

Manger to the Cross

“For God so gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life”

We are often reminded of the attributes of our Almighty God.  He is the Great “I AM”.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, always present and all-giving.  He created, sustains and controls everything we see, everything we don’t see is all within His control.

2 Corinthians 9: 6-15  Paul speaking “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifullyEach one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Are you a follower of Jesus Christ and adopted into the Heavenly family by a Father  who gives without condition?  We are instructed to do so in the Word. Giving is a heart condition!  A heart that has received the “gift of God” should desire to serve by giving always.  First, giving ourselves to Him in full surrender living according to His will as presented to us in the Holy Word. Secondly, giving to others with “cheerful hearts” brings joy; so much joy.

Manger (1)
Photo Courtesy Acts 1:8 Ministry

Give of your heart

Give of your time

Give of your substance

Give of your love

Give freely to all

Give like our Savior

or

Give nothing at all.

♥ Streim